On Wednesday evening, Cranleigh feasted on a new experience. La Scala came to the stage of the Emms Centre. Students from the National Opera Studio and its Musical Director, Kathryn Harries, travelled from their base in London to perform a wonderful array of scenes from much-loved Italian operas. The NOS provides professional training of the highest quality for singers and repetiteurs who have the potential to become the leading artists of their generation.
The singing began with the charismatic Adam Gilbert giving us a lively rendition of Rossini’s “Largo al factotum” from Barbiere di Seviglia which was swiftly followed by three pieces from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (another opera based on Beaumarchais’s writings). The aria, ‘Voi, che appeto’, sung by Heather Lowe, really stood out for me. She seemed to personify the cheeky character of Cherubino in her very humorous performance. The tenor, Gerard Schneider, wooed all the ladies on my table with an emotional rendition of Puccini’s “Che gelida manina”. He combined the effortlessness of Pavarotti with the delights of Placido Domingo. The set was completed by a floating and expressive “O soave fanciulla”, sung by Gerard Schneider and Katherine Crompton, beautifully choreographed and using all the space available.
The evening was accompanied by delicious and beautifully presented Italian food. After indulging ourselves on the main course provided by the catering department (everyday please!), the audience was delighted by a captivating and hilarious performance of Rossini’s trio “Ah! Qual colpo”; the incredibly naughty Gyula Nagy (Baritone) had the audience in fits of laughter. Then there was a sudden change in tone with the sombre performance, by the mind-blowing Bass-Baritone, Tim Dickinson, of Bellini’s “Vi ravviso”. Trystan. Llyr Griffiths finished the set with “Una furtiva lagrima”, one of my personal favourites, his wonderful tenor timbre ringing from the balcony.
Bellini’s duet “Forse, forse delll’alba al sorgere” and Puccini’s Duet from the first act of Madame Butterfly carried the audience all the way through to the final piece. The sublime flourish on Verdi’s La Traviata “Brindisi” from the whole chorus, had the audience raising their glasses to the famous drinking song and cheering at the end.
Overall, it was a fantastic event on every level. Bravissimi.
Theo Golden (LVIth)